Correlation: An Uncorrelated History (Part 9 — History Done Backwards)

This is the final, and longest, post of the series. Read the first eight installments: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, and Part 8. You can download and read Daymon’s dissertation here.

Remember, Daymon has made his dissertation available for purchase in bound form here. All of the proceeds will go to the Utah Food Bank.

Brad: What we have today is a kind of case study. It’s a detailed ethnographic account which, again, we’re only going to be able to scratch the surface of in this conversation—it’s an account of the creation and writing of the priesthood and Relief Society manual, The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, for none other than our old friend John Taylor.

Daymon: I thought this would be a nice, if perhaps ironic, way to end the dissertation, to go back to John Taylor again. Really the origin point of the whole story. And Taylor, of course, was the figure that the Fundamentalists pointed back to as well. So there’s a weird kind of mirroring or analogy between the Fundamentalists grounding their tradition in John Taylor and the seeing how Correlation is going to correlate John Taylor as a historical or biographical figure.

Brad: Not so much a historical figure, actually, as a Thinker of Eternal Truths. Or speaker of Eternal Truths.

Daymon: So the thing they end up having to wrestle with is that he was, indeed, once in the flesh and blood, and he gets, in some sense, pressed out of his historical flesh and transformed into a disembodied figure, an idea.

Brad: Now, before we get into the thick of this, tell us briefly how you came into possession of these very rich materials and documents.

Daymon: Well it’s a complicated story, a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend kind of thing, the same way I came across the Fundamentalism materials. In this case, the man who gave me the materials had attempted first to donate them to the Church archives, but was told they didn’t want them, so he let me make copies of them. So it’s sometimes through sheer serendipity that ethnography and history become possible. But in this case, what I had before me were all the meeting minutes, all the email exchanges, all the drafts of the different chapters that different members of the writing committee wrote. So the way these committees usually work, is they issue callings to, in some sense, random people, though not entirely since it’s often someone who knows somebody who works in the Curriculum Department at the Church Office Building.

Brad: So there’s some informal vetting in the sense that the individuals are believed to be trustworthy, no red flags in their files, so to speak. And it’s also important that none of them are trained professional historians or academics.

Daymon: The ideas is that the same kind of people who will be reading it will be writing it.

Brad: Trustworthy, faithful, relatively bright, rank-and-file Latter-day Saints.

Daymon: Part of the trick here is that these are all people who have been encountering Correlated materials and texts now for several decades. So the efforts of Correlation are now coming full circle, where you can now have people who can produce Correlated material without having to thoroughly regiment or oversee them. In some sense they’re just going to reproduce a version of the 72 nouns that Lee and his committee originally organized.

Brad: So in some sense a synonym for these earlier terms—trustworthy, faithful, rank-and-file—would be simply “correlated.” So correlated Mormons will produce correlated materials, a correlated manual.

Daymon: One of the key strategies of Correlation was to stick “priesthood” before everything they did, but at the same time to “discover” that correlation was already going on everywhere—of course the term “correlation” just denotes when two things are in some relationship.

Brad: Co-relation.

Daymon: Occasionally Correlation would even describe the complimentarity of man and woman in the bedroom as a correlated relationship. And grace and works were correlated too. Any time they could string two words together in any kind of relationship of similarity or complimentarity or anything else, they would say “that is correlation.” So, of course, they manage to find correlation everywhere.

Brad: They’re not creating anything. They’re discovering and harnessing something that already exists.

Daymon: It’s not an administrative initiative, it was a Revelation calling for the discovery of something which is already there, as it were, pulled out of the ground.

Brad: But also eternal and unchanging.

Daymon: That’s right. And the eternal and unchanging aspect is really a residue of the fact that they’re dealing almost exclusively with abstract nouns. Words that don’t have, for example, any tense, which simply seem timeless, which seem to refer to things which are Platonic ideal forms, like “Faith.” But if you go and read historical texts, what “faith” means seems to change quite regularly.

Brad: So we have an anonymous committee, that is invested with the imprimatur if “The Prophet,” or more accurately the Corporation of the President of the Church.

Daymon: In their first meeting—it’s six people, men and women (though the manager is a man because it’s a priesthood calling) volunteers, they’re not paid to do this but volunteer their time and energy after receiving the calling, and it’s no small task—on the 23rd floor of the Church Office Building on a Thursday afternoon, and they’re told that not only is this calling issued by the current Church President, the current Prophet, but also that the president that they’re talking about—in this case John Taylor—will help them, inspire them, and assist them in organizing this material. And where is John Taylor going to perform this service? Well, of course, in the Mind.

Brad: This doubling serves to create a kind of generic idea or persona of “the Prophet”—a slot that can be filled in by a specific individual—you’re being supported by Gordon B. Hinckley, who’s “the Prophet” and also by John Taylor, who’s “the Prophet,” and also by Joseph Smith, who’s “the Prophet.” “The Prophet” in some sense becomes a genericized category.

Daymon: And this is part of what makes possible something like the creation of these manuals by volunteers, in a Correlated Church. So this notion that they are going to present the teachings of John Taylor has to be read through this correlated notion that the ideas of John Taylor are the same as the ideas—the abstract topics—that Harold B. Lee mapped out on this chart.

Brad: Because they’re eternal and unchanging and timeless. The same ideas animated Joseph Smith, animated John Taylor, animate God, animate Gordon B. Hinckley, animated Harold B. Lee. Lee was just the one that accessed them, collated and diagrammed them.

Daymon: So this becomes the origin story of Correlated Mormonism. These eternal, timeless, changeless terms are really “the Gospel.” And this then becomes something which anybody can discover, just as it used to be possible for anyone to learn about God just by thinking about their bodies and their day-to-day experiences. Now it becomes possible to think about God by thinking about thoughts. Abstract, timeless, eternal, unchanging principles—thoughts.

Brad: The Mind of God is accessible through your own mind, it can be mapped, the two Minds can be mapped together, conjoined.

Daymon: And there are all kinds of ritual spaces in which we enact the truth of this relationship between the mind of man and the Mind of God, and one of the most important places is in this discursive space in Priesthood and Relief Society, where we collectively encounter and go over these manuals.

Brad: We talk about these abstract principles, we testify of their eternal truth.

Daymon: And more importantly we identify and locate our own biography within the biography of John Taylor, which is really just a manifestation of this idea. So they might read a passage, and then ask “well, what does this principle mean to you?” “What is ‘faith’ to you, Brad?” These are the kinds of questions that the manuals ask the teachers to ask.

Brad: So who you are on the inside becomes aligned and identified with who John Taylor is represented as having been on the inside through the text.

Daymon: So there’s this concentric diagram of people, that has its origins in these abstract words, which enables elaborate speculations or reflections on your self. Sometimes these questions will ask you to think about a previous time in which you’ve thought about this or that abstract noun. Or think about why God might desire this. So there’s this nested structure, grounded in abstract nouns and verbs of thinking—what does God think or want, rather than what does God say, what does He command.

Brad: They’re not verbs of speaking, they’re verbs of thinking.

Daymon: So you’ll find in the manuals a great deal of embedded verbs of thinking: ponder what you desired when you thought about wanting this thing. And then think about why God would want that to happen. These are all investigations of this nested structure in the Mind. So the question then becomes, how does this become possible as a sort of regulating practice in the Correlated Church, and this all goes back to the committees that writ these manuals.

Brad: One of the Correlation managers you spoke with furnished a quote, which literally, and not without irony, could have been written by Michele Foucault. He said “Correlation begins within the mind of the originator.” Breathtaking, really. Correlation is not a process that is forced upon the people who have been called to write the manual. Correlation is something which is presumed to pre-exist in their minds, in their Mind. It will be a correlated manual by virtue of Correlation already being present in their minds.

Daymon: And that notion makes possible and rationalizes the entire productive apparatus that Lee instituted, grounded in these abstract terms which he organized into this standardized taxonomy. Of course everyone has “faith” or “obedience” or “self-mastery” in their minds. They already exist, and we just have to put them into the proper, hierarchical relationship. This is what Correlation was supposed to be doing.

Brad: And making the new taxonomy of abstract principles legible to everybody.

Daymon: So back to the John Taylor committee, they met every week. The first day that they met they were told to brainstorm ideas.

Brad: Now this is as fascinating as it is absolutely critical and central to Correlation. On the one hand they’re told that they’ll have virtually unfettered access to every record, everything that John Taylor’s ever written or spoken and had recorded. It’s going to be digitized and therefore searchable. That’s also key—it’s going to be searchable by term, so the texts are broken down according to patterns that make them legible and processable by computers. So you just scour the texts for particular words, with the presumption that the meaning of the words is both transparent as well as uniform across time and space, including its being identical with the meanings that Correlation now ascribes to the word. But back to the key point here, all this unlimited access and searchability takes place within an interesting creative context: they’re told to come up with the topics, the chapter titles, the ideas we’ll learn about from Taylor, prior to actually reading his words. There’s even a little resistance here. Someone says “well, shouldn’t we read these documents before we settle on chapter titles?” So rather than going and reading John Taylor, looking at the kinds of things he actually said, the kinds of things he was interested in talking about, and then, based upon a careful reading of John Taylor’s teachings, putting together a list of chapters—instead of this, they’re told, before you actually go to John Taylor, you’re going to put together a list of chapter topics, with each chapter title being an abstract noun or noun-phrase, checked against Lee’s magic list. You’re going to decide in advance what Taylor is going to teach us about, since you already know anyway.

Daymon: They’re told this process is absolutely necessary for them to basically be able to manage all of the material. So before they even so much as look at anything by John Taylor, they’ve already come up with 25 or so words.

Brad: The categories have to be in place already, and they have to be anchored to abstract terms.

Daymon: This is very important for the committee’s work, because there’s a great deal of overlap between all the word lists that were submitted by each of the members. Why is that the case? Because these are the same terms that go back to Lee’s cards, which he turned into a curriculum worksheet decades before, and became the foundation for all correlated curricula.

Brad: These things are already in the tables of contents of all the previous iterations of these Church President manuals, they’re in the Topical Guide.

Daymon: So these become the standardized and regulated words according to which Taylor is going to be searched, understood, made legible. The surveillance structure for history is constructed around these Correlated terms.

Brad: The lens for encountering and reading Taylor is a hierarchical diagram of abstract terms, categories of eternal thought, so to speak.

Daymon: So they come up with their lists, they brainstorm and talk about them. They get rid of a few suggestions like “Patriarchal Order,” they revise some of the words to make them ring more nicely to the modern Mormon ear, like changing “progression toward Godhood” to “progress toward Exaltation,” and “Cooperation” becomes “Self-Reliance.” They submit this list to the heads of the Correlation Department, who then reorganize it and make suggestions for revision, and perhaps more importantly, they’re constantly trying to orient their list toward what is called the “Curriculum Planning Worksheet” (sample excerpt).

Brad: This is a multi-page worksheet that organizes terms hierarchically, and it’s a standardized reproduction of the notecard diagram that Lee and his original committee constructed on the wall of his office. It’s a series of pages in which all of these terms are organized and arranged hierarchically.

Daymon: Right. The CPW contains, basically, what everybody should already know, and, effectively, the only things that anyone really even needs to know. So they go over the chapter list that they’ve devised, they don’t actually have any content yet, and they compare it with the categories listed on the Curriculum Planning Worksheet. Now the categories on the CPW are almost exclusively abstract nouns and noun phrases.

Brad: Nested hierarchically.

Daymon: So they’ll be, like, 2.1.3.5—categories that are numerically arranged.

Brad: One term will fall under the head of another term, under the head of another, etc.

Daymon: And of course this is a perfectly reasonable and normal way for these things to be done, but, on the other hand, it’s certainly not the kind of thing you would have found—it wouldn’t really have even been thinkable—in the 19th Century. Not because people weren’t capable of doing it, but because it wouldn’t have made any sense. In this case, you have two categories. The first is abstract nouns—faith, obedience, love, etc. The second is these phrases which are in a kind of timeless grammatical structure: “Planning family finances.” There’s no grammatical subject here, it’s an unmarked tense and a continuous aspect. The “-ing” here makes it seem like “planning family finances” is something that is always done.

Brad: It’s ongoing and eternal.

Daymon: So the terms themselves, linguistically and syntactically, refer to a timeless and eternal entity.

Brad: I don’t know that we want to go into too much fine-grained analysis of the manual’s content—people can read the dissertation chapters where you, for example, provide a really fascinating discussion on the treatment of the term “priesthood” in the manual.

Daymon: To get there, it’s really important to understand how they actually go about putting these texts together. So after they’ve received approval for the chapter titles, they all sign up and each person has a few chapters they will write individually. So they do a search in the digital database for whatever term they’re supposed to be writing about. And they match it up and make sure that they’ve got the proper coverage from the CPW, so that they’re not duplicating too much material from, say, the Brigham Young or Harold B. Lee manuals. And so if their term is “priesthood” they’re going to search all the electronic texts for this word. And then they’ll read everything that comes up. So this might be a nice way to organize information in an index or on the Web, but it’s not a particularly good way to write history. Unless, that is, you view history as a reflection of the Mind of God and the Order of the Universe.

Brad: And they make absolutely clear at the outset of the writing process that they’re not interested in history, in Taylor’s personal history, or in any kind of historical context for any of the writings or quotations that are going to be included. Maybe there’ll be a few tiny, decontextualized vignettes that are meant to permit some identification of the abstract principle in question with some moment in his life, but they don’t want any historical background on what was going on in the wider Church when he said this.

Daymon: We’re not doing “history” we’re doing “doctrines.” And yet even this distinction between doctrine and history wouldn’t really have made sense to someone like Taylor. But the vignettes from the life of John Taylor were explicitly designed to prepare the mind of the reader for the principle being taught.

Brad: And the principle is itself eternal. It’s not dependent on any historical context, it can’t be situated historical, because these principles, these terms, transcend history.

Daymon: So the terms are used to decontextualize literally everything. Every text is stripped out of its context, because all you’re looking for is an Eternal Principle. And you just locate that Principle inside the Mind of John Taylor, which can be evidenced in a little scene of him at home with his family, or on the farm, or whatever. So they turn this virtual biography of Taylor as an expression of an Eternal Principle, which is a kind of metaphor for what the reader is supposed to be doing while reading.

Brad: We are supposed to become ourselves expressions of the selfsame Principle.

Daymon: So here’s a question from Chapter 2, from the “suggestions for further study” portion, a question the instructor is supposed to ask during the lesson:

How can it help you to know the Gospel is eternal and unchangeable? How does this knowledge influence your beliefs and the decisions you make?

Notice how embedded these things are in the Mind. You’ve got here knowledge, beliefs, decisions you make.

What have you done to receive a testimony of the Gospel? What experiences have strengthened your testimony?

And this is the important one, the last question:

What can we do to ensure that the principles of the Gospel continue to abide in us?

Brad: Things that are abstract, that exist independently of us, independently of agents of any kind, or definitions for that matter. They’re just out there. But if we align ourselves properly, they can “abide” within us in the same way that they can abide in Joseph Smith or John Taylor or Thomas Monson or Adam or Jesus or Moses or Abraham or your Elder’s Quorum instructor.

Daymon: And so when you respond to this question in class, of course you’re supposed to ideally display some aspect of your personal biography as it aligns with this Principle and demonstrates that this abstract idea abides in you.

Brad: It’s an act of speaking that is both scripted and unscripted at the same time. A performance that is spontaneous but whose limits are also tightly circumscribed.

Daymon: So it seems like you just did discover this, even though you also realize that it was already always there. You are correlated, in the sense that you are both legible and manageable to the Correlated Church. Going back to the term “priesthood”, there really are some interesting things going on here in terms of priesthood orders and order of the priesthood that undergo rearrangement within the John Taylor manual. They make subtle changes to the text that description that Taylor initially gave for priesthood orders.

Brad: Usually, today, when we say “order of the priesthood” we mean something like that authoritative flow chart. Who presides over whom, in what order? “Order” of the priesthood means priesthood hierarchy, an organizational diagram in which every person and every office fits into a slot. Everybody has a proper place, there is a proper order. A vertically integrated Order of the Priesthood.

Daymon: You’ve got Deacons and Teachers and Priests and Elders and High Priests, etc. We could all replicate this thing.

Brad: And it’s all grounded in the notion of presiding and being presided over.

Daymon: And this formulation gets written into the text of John Taylor in the two chapters on priesthood. But if you read John Taylor’s original writings on this stuff—most of these texts were originally published in the Journal of Discourses, though they explicitly change the citations from the JD to the Deseret News, because of course they don’t want people actually going to the Journal of Discourses—and you don’t read it through a lens of a correlated notion of priesthood, as a hierarchical order of men, you find that Taylor has some rather different descriptions of priesthood order. Among them, the old notion of order as decree, the orders of the priesthood being the things that are decreed by the priesthood.

Brad: The orders, demands, wishes of God or of a group of priests.

Daymon: Right. So Taylor describes the priesthood being organized according to the order of God, he’s not saying that the Order of God is replicated or mirrored in the organization of an administrative hierarchy, what he’s saying is that there’s a decree from God which has organized these priesthood offices. Taylor almost never uses terms that we use today with regularity, like “priesthood authority.” Other renderings of “order” that get read through a correlated lens in the manual and, therefore, completely missed—again, because put together by the very people who will be reading them, so there’s a seamless correlation, you might say, in terms of this new notion of priesthood that gets written onto history. He talks about “order” as something like a Masonic order.

Brad: A fraternal order.

Daymon: A group of guys who collectively are equals. And this, for him, is what brought together heaven and earth, because if you’re in an order of the priesthood, that means you are in the same fraternal group as the angels or as the gods.

Brad: There’s an order of equals, of men who collectively share this power, this community and brotherhood, and it’s an order, the membership of which is comprised of both mortal and immortal beings, so it literally connects the two worlds.

Daymon: But as soon as you sever heaven from earth, mind from body, this notion of an order gets rearranged as a hierarchical order which mirrors a separate, parallel order in a different world. And this order requires a head.

Brad: So now there has to be an individual through whom heaven can be transmitted to earth. Rather than it being this shared collectivity, it’s something that is transmitted through the mind of the prophet, hierarchically downward, eventually into the homes and hearts of individuals, through priesthood channels.

Daymon: So you have really an accidental rereading and revisioning of John Taylor’s doctrinal descriptions, but it’s something that is virtually impossible for most readers to recover. You’d have to do a pretty study of both these linguistic issues plus of loads of historical documents to recover these things, but they’re things which are just seamless now. So what’s going on is a reconstruction backwards of the Correlated Gospel, which is almost impossible to see as different from anything that preceded it. So the Gospel is unchangeable, and its current rendering, as on Lee’s notecards, is the thing that is unchangeable, that always has and always will exist. Correlation performs a kind of colonization of the historical past. Now you can go back and read Brigham Young and learn about family home evening.

Brad: Or find contemporary readings of “order of the priesthood” in the writings of Joseph Smith. J. Nelson-Seawright did a post on this when he first reviewed the Joseph Smith manual. He talked about how a decontextualized portion of a JSJ sermon from Kirtland was positioned within the manual in such a way that it made it seem as if Joseph were himself instituting this notion of priesthood-as-administrative-hierarchy.

Daymon: This is why it’s so important that most of the chapter titles and section titles within the chapters are drawn directly from the Curriculum Planning Worksheet. They are framing devices, explanatory phrases that direct you to read the quotations in a certain way. Lee’s CPW can literally be written into the voice of Joseph Smith.

Brad: So perhaps the largest take away point from all of this, in trying to figure out what Correlation means or does, is that it is really infinitely more than just a committee. It’s more than just a doctrinal or theological regimentation. Typically when we talk about correlated materials, we’re talking about manuals and curricula, perhaps even General Conference talks. But Correlation is so, so much more than that. Here’s an example. Several years ago I participated in the Joseph Smith Summer Seminar at BYU with Richard Bushman and Terryl Givens. We did something remarkably similar to what this manual writing committee did. Basically, we decided that part of our goal for the seminar, in addition to writing and presenting papers, we were going to create what we called a Map of 19th-century Mormon Thought. So we came up with an initial list, just a list of terms, of categories. And then we were going to go to the Journal of Discourses and other important 19th Century sources, and any time we came across something that we found to be particularly rich, we would either append it to an existing category, or else add a new category somewhere on the tree. Maybe that was going to be a sub-category of another category. So we’re like quasi-liberal, relatively intellectual Mormons, who are ostensibly working outside of the surveillance framework of Correlation, and yet what we ended up producing—this like 30-page flowchart of abstract terms and supporting quotations—was as much a Correlated text as anything produced by a committee at the Church Office Building.

Daymon: It’s very difficult to see just how deeply Correlation reconstructed the Mormon. Precisely because they’re dealing with abstract terms that we can recreate individually. What you have is an attempt to transcend history with Correlation. Which, of course, from the very beginning was what Correlation was said to do. But also an attempt to create sameness across the globe, across both time and space. How does this happen? It goes back to the experiences with Native Americans that many of these guys on the original Correlation board had. And by the 1970s they had restructured the Church around surveillable categories. So things which were visible to the logic of Correlation became the ground for ordering the organizational units of the Church as Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3. And the closer you approximate a Correlated entity, something which has recordable public acts such as donations, attendance, things which can be aggregated and turned into numbers, these become ways of…

Brad: Of classifying units within the Church, of classifying spaces in which Mormons congregate.

Daymon: And of ordering them according to their approximation of the ideal Correlated congregation. Phase 1 (Wards) is on target, Phase 2 (branches) is more on the fringe, and Phase 3 (groups) is way out there.

Brad: So you go somewhere out there in the third world, you send missionaries to someplace where there’s never been proselyting, and the first thing they’ll do is organize a unit called a “group.”

Daymon: And the idea is that they will eventually progress, through encountering and taking up Correlated materials, to becoming a Correlated congregation, that properly uses all the manuals and curriculum, the proper phrasings, and if you sat all the Elders in the congregation down, they could come up with the Curriculum Planning Worksheet all by themselves.

Brad: Just by brainstorming. Just by rolling their eyes into the back of their heads and surveilling the contents of their own minds, they could produce Lee’s worksheet.

Daymon: Which makes it into an eternal thing which is everywhere, not dependent upon human history and human contingency.

Brad: But it saturates all of Mormon discourse, not just the mass produced texts that come from the Church Office Building. Sterling McMurrin’s Theological Foundations is in its own way a Correlated text.

Daymon: The Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology is just an extension of the Correlated Gospel. These folks can go back and read philosophical texts and see that the abstract ideas manifested in Whitehead or Kant or Augustine or Plato—to find correlation in their works. Correlation furnishes the keys for self-described liberal or intellectual Mormons to run on their own and to find the truths of the Gospel in supposedly Uncorrelated materials, but what they’re really providing is a lens for seeing the world, and seeing Correlation in it.

Brad: Even ostensible heterodox or rogue Mormon organizations are a part of it. There was an edited volume on Mormon theology produced by Signature Books recently. Signature’s supposed to be basically, like, this anti-Mormon entity, right?

Daymon: Line Upon Line.

Brad: That’s it. And even though you have writers, some of them not particularly friendly to the Church, making claims about Mormon doctrine as undergoing massive change, or whatever, claims that could easily be construed as disruptive to faith, they’re still grounded in a basically orthodox rendering of the Universe, in which everything is presented as an abstract idea or principle.

Daymon: The whole problem you find in that volume is trying to explain why there was such rich theological speculation in the 19th Century but so little of it now, and what’s interesting is the way these authors try to explain that transition. Whereas I ground my analysis in things like language and grammatical categories, syntax and analogic projection, and even politics and social relationship, this volume will explain it as “a lack of faith in the soundness of individual initiative, discussion, and decisions.”

Brad: That’s totally COB-speak.

Daymon: Another:

The concepts embraced by speculative theology are reason, experience, authority, intuition, and imagination. In one way or another these structures and methods are products of the mind and conscience.

Brad: Was that written by Dan Peterson or Dan Vogel?

Daymon: So this is the alignment of the Correlated Church, which really makes something like opposition impossible, because if you are different from the correlated or ideal congregation or Mormon, what you really are is just someone who is not yet fully realized as a Correlated Mormon. You can’t oppose it, you can just be situated along a continuum which will eventually lead you into it. You’re just somewhere along the Phase-1-2-3 gradient.

So, to conclude, what happened with Correlation was the rise of an apparatus to develop a new kind of subjectivity, which could be under the surveillance of this administrative arm.

Brad: Like a new kind of generic Mormon personhood, which individual Mormons are capable, to varying degrees, of stepping into and performing in a manner that is legible to the administrative and oversight organs that we typically associate with Correlation.

Daymon: And by their performance they turn it into a real thing, between them, as if it didn’t come from above but they just discovered in their own mind, in their own personal biography. So Correlation is not just an administrative change, a committee, something that deals formally with manuals.

Brad: It is that, but it’s so much more than that.

Daymon: There certainly is a Correlation Committee, but it does very little today. It does very minor things like fact checking. One committee member crossed out the word “love” when it was applied to the Book of Mormon, because you’re only supposed to love living beings. It might regulate the use of certain stock phrases, but this is all very minor.

Brad: Because, now, Correlation already exists in the minds of originators, in the minds of the people who are producing the materials in the first place.

Daymon: Another way to say this is that what becomes public Mormonism are those things which are correlatable or are already under the productive gaze of this correlation process that goes back, maybe all the way to the Underground.

Brad: It’s really not so much a bureaucratic structure or a committee. It’s not even so much a state of mind. It’s really a set of imaginative and linguistic practices, that are both conditioned and structured through the interactions that rank-and-file Mormons have every day, interactions both inside of and with properties, real and intellectual, that are controlled but a set of concentric corporations known collectively as the LDS Church.

Daymon: And they give you the privilege of going back and reading, say, Plato and restructure his entire arguments around these correlated categories and thus discover for yourself that Plato indeed taught the Eternal and Unchanging Gospel, which in some sense maybe he did, but not necessarily the Gospel of Correlation. My concern with the entire dissertation was to explain how historical processes such as the Underground, or some of these theological changes, and political changes, relate to the ways in which we tell our histories. What I argue ultimately is that it changes the way we approach the texts, all texts. You can get very smart people at the Summer Seminar, and they can go back and read these texts, but read them as Correlated Minds. So history, here, becomes another space for colonization, just like Native America or Latin America. But it’s a very subtle kind of reconstruction, in which we only allow certain things to exist within certain Mormon properties.

Brad: It’s not a violent form of colonization. This isn’t the stuff of Orwell but, rather, of Huxley.

Daymon: It’s almost impossible to resist because you don’t ever confront it, you can’t even see it. It’s the way modern power works. It’s distributed across every point of your interaction, and thus constitutes its own reality, which you could never see, any more than a fish could ever really see water.

Brad: It’s what Foucault calls “capillary power,” power that operates almost independently of any agent because it’s so diffuse.

Daymon: And it doesn’t stop people from doing things. It actually creates them, makes them possible, gives them avenues for interaction. So it provides them scripts, it provides them with social roles, and it provides them with the ability to constitute the truth of not just their religion but their very existence.

Brad: Any parting thoughts before we shut things down here?

Daymon: I think we’ve probably exhausted the patience of all our readers at this point.

Brad: You want to close with a testimony?

Daymon: Maybe this whole thing has been my testimony. I wrote this thing in some sense to try to understand why I was so bored by my current attendance at Church, but yet so profoundly fascinated and engaged by the 19th Century Church. I wasn’t satisfied with this explanation that things just changed because the calendar changed, or that things just got better, or that we don’t need to know about or understand these things. I wanted to explain how abandoning things which were at the time viewed as absolutely essential produced a very different order of things. How seemingly small things like polygamy and consecration, or even concerns about language—the capacity to make and keep oaths—can lead to major shifts. I never planned to end up with Correlation by starting with the Underground, but it turned out to be not only a kind of perverse history, but really made a lot of sense in terms of my own personal experience.

Brad: And perhaps as the greatest manifestation of all of the power of Correlation over individuals, you are of course still being bored at your weekly Church meetings along with the rest of us.

Daymon: But I hope I just observe the boredom now, rather than create it.

Comments

  1. Kevin Barney says:

    I’ve enjoyed the series.

    (But what happened to all the basketball?)

  2. Jonathan Green says:

    Thanks for a fascinating series of posts. It sounds like a really great dissertation with a lot of really important material. A few years ago I posted a series of thoughts about language and Mormonism, but they compare to this about as well as you’d expect a blog post to compare to a dissertation.

    As much as it’s worth thinking through all of this, I don’t agree with every particular.

    I’m not seeing the connection between polygamy and correlation. I read all parts of the series, but that connection didn’t convince me. Sorry. By starting so far back, the argument runs the risk of seeming to find a monocausal explanation for all Mormon history since 1879 and all aspects of Mormonism today.

    I think the argument underestimates the persistence of ideas: at the same time people are saying new things in new ways, Mormons are continuing to use the same scriptures (like the KJV!) and other older texts that would tend to preserve linguistic stability. At the same time, Mormons have never lived in a vacuum, and any official discourse will necessarily be permeable in a place where Mormons and non-Mormons are living side by side; to go out into the world to preach the Gospel, even a correlated one, requires two-way conversations and mutual influence.

    For example, it seems very odd to suggest that “order of the priesthood” could not be read, post-Correlation, as a fraternal order by holding up the Masons as a contrasting example, because the historical exclusion of Mormons from Masonry in Utah means that Masonry was not just a known quantity, but something that had long stood in direct contrast to the definition of priesthood: if non-Mormons have Masonry as their fraternal order, then Mormons have….what? The obvious answer would seem to be “priesthood.”

    Finally, I find the argument too deterministic with regard to language and thought, too willing to limit what is thinkable to what can be patterned on official pronouncements. The linguistic turn seems a bit too tightly wound here for my taste.

  3. While I can’t speak for Daymon, Jonathan, I will say that I appreciate what is obviously a very thoughtful and well-thought-out response to the series. But I’d also say that the series itself rather dimly captures the scope and depth of the linguistic, anthropological, and historical arguments of the dissertation. Daymon’s arguments do presuppose both a familiarity as well as a measure of agreement with certain strands of social theory, in particular the work of C. S. Peirce, Benjamin Whorf, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Michael Silverstein. Different disciplinary commitments and backgrounds are going to produce different readings, but I wouldn’t draw any sweeping conclusions from this little conversation alone. Thanks again for reading!

  4. Caraway says:

    I do not think this series has made its case, despite how data-packed it is. There have been so many points along the way where I thought the authors were seeing only what they wanted to see, or choosing one of several alternate explanations without adequately disposing of the alternates, that I am left unsatisfied and unconvinced. Worse, I have had planted in my mind — that word again — the notion that my church curriculum cannot be trusted, that it has been manipulated for some underhanded yet unstated purpose, that if I *really* understood how the sausage was made, I would not attend church classes again for the rest of my life. I will of course continue to attend, but you have planted ideas that will be difficult to shake because they are so vague and hard to pin down. You have done a disservice overall.

    “most of these texts were originally published in the Journal of Discourses, though they explicitly change the citations from the JD to the Deseret News,”

    Begging your scholarly pardon, but I do not believe this is the case. Texts of speeches were published in the Deseret News almost immediately after their delivery, and only later compiled into the Journal of Discourses.

    “because of course they don’t want people actually going to the Journal of Discourses”

    It is this kind of underhanded, subtle, poisoning of a reader’s mind that I object to. “Of course.”

  5. “So we have an anonymous committee, that is invested with the imprimatur if “The Prophet,” or more accurately the Corporation of the President of the Church. ”

    Again with the corporation boogeyman?

    Brad, Daymon, thanks for a thoughtful series. As Jonathan and others have pointed out, I’ve enjoyed this discussion as it has meandered through our history — not necessarily because I agree with all of the connections you’re making (sometimes, those have seem forced to me), but because it is satisfying and enriching to participate in discussions with smart people who are passionate about their topic.

  6. Steve,
    Merely using the term ‘corporation’ does not entail treating it as a boogeyman, and the sentence is accurate.

  7. Brad,
    If you only invest words with their literal meaning, then yes, it’s not a bogeyman and the sentence is accurate. But in the social discourse of today, and especially as it relates to previous parts of the series, throwing that in certainly does scream EVIL.

    But I enjoyed the series. Thanks, guys.

  8. Caraway,
    While the nature of unscripted, informal conversation can sometimes translate into what reads in transcription as cynicism (“of course”) I can assure you that it was not our intent to suggest that curriculum cannot be trusted or that it was produced for any underhanded purpose, stated or unstated. I am sorry if this is the impression reading these conversations gave you.

  9. Craig M. says:

    I’ve been a frequent reader on the Bloggernacle for a couple of years now, and I just wanted to say that in my opinion this series represents some of the most engaging material out there. Thanks for the posts.

    Also, I was wondering if there is a possibility for some follow-up beyond the scope of the dissertation. I’d be interested in Daymon’s (or others’) normative assessment of Correlation – Does it help or hinder church growth? Does it help or hinder individual spiritual growth? Are we even capable of leaving Correlation at the point? What would a modern, non-Correlated Church look like?

  10. Sam, if by “previous parts of the series” you mean “previous boogeyman accusations made in the comment threads of this series” then I suppose you are correct. The emphasis on corporate organization is not some anti-Walmart, foam-at-the-mouth outrage, but a deliberate effort to understand how these organizational changes produce effects on the Mormonism we all experience.

  11. Brad, the sentence is not only inaccurate, I believe it’s deliberately misleading.

    You’re not just using the term corporation, of course. What does it mean to say that it is “more accurate” that the committee has more the imprimatur of a corporation than the Prophet? It’s a direct implication that the committee is acting solely with cold corporate calculation and not any ‘real’ approval from anyone invested with spiritual authority. The entire purpose of the sentence appears to set up some sort of foreboding schism between the corporation of the president and the title of the Prophet, coupled with the always-insidious notion of an anonymous committee. I’m sorry, but that strikes me as just a hackneyed approach; it does short shrift to both the reality of how large religious organizations function as well as to the motivations of the First Presidency in bringing the committee about in the first place.

    Perhaps you should clarify then what you mean by ‘imprimatur’, then, because really the strongest implications of your sentence are that this committee’s acts have no approval from God’s anointed, and certainly have no divine imprimatur – just the fallen empty corporate sort.

  12. John Mansfield says:

    The historical preface of the John Taylor manual has a couple paragraphs on plural marriage and conflicts with the federal government that drove President Taylor underground. I think it is the only mention of polygamy in the Teachings of the Presidents series.

  13. Brad,
    Not to derail, because in general, this series has been excellent, but your text and subtext of the relevance of organizing in the corporate form doesn’t resonate with me, or others who work with corporations on a regular basis. It may be that you don’t mean any subtext with your comments, but I read implications there that don’t reflect any reality.

    For example, in order to get a tax exemption under current and longstanding law, an organization must be a corporation. If I were a corporate attorney rather than a tax attorney, I’d probably highlight something else. But ultimately, I don’t see anything underlying the incorporation of various Church entities other than the fact that the corporate form is very useful in many ways. So your pushing on incorporation as having some correlative relevance doesn’t make any sense to me.

  14. Kristine says:

    Steve, the committee does have more of the imprimatur of the institution (if you don’t want to use the C word) than of a single person. It’s far too large and its products far too numerous for the Prophet (or even 15 Prophets, Seers, and Revelators) to track with anything like the kind of scrutiny that “imprimatur” suggests. In fact, what has happened is that Correlation has become an approved producer of materials acceptable within the institutional culture, and the genesis, or at least the blessing, of that culture has been attributed to the Prophet.

  15. So take another whack at explaining your thought that Correlation imposes categories of thought that people can’t seem to escape. I’m sure if a non-LDS scholar does research and publishes a book or paper on LDS history or doctrine, that scholar would not be influenced by the CPW. If that’s true, why should an LDS scholar not be able to develop their own categories of thought if they go to the original sources? Or any LDS reader willing to read and digest original texts?

    Interestingly, I did a post from somewhat the same perspective about six year ago right here at BCC: “A Curriculum Experiment.”

  16. Kristine, no dispute from me on that point — but I think it is central to Brad and Daymon’s thesis that the institution is NOT the corporation. The corporation, after all, is a solo operation clearinghouse for assets; none of us are a part of the corporation. Indeed, had Brad referred to the institution then there would be little to argue about.

  17. Steve, I meant it in a highly technical sense. Copyrightable materials produced by Correlation are the intellectual property of the CPC (or its subsidiary, IRI). I don’t see how anyone could read this story and think that Lee and others who drove Correlation believed they were acting purely in the service of some empty, corporate imperatives, as opposed to a divine mandate to efficiently carry the gospel around the globe.

  18. Brad, if that’s the case then it’s not less accurate to speak of one imprimatur than the other – you have both the technical copyright declarations of IRI on the one hand and the divine mandate of Lee et al. Both strike me as equally important to the work of the committee.

  19. Kristine says:

    Steve, it seems to me that you are reading far more cynically than is warranted.

  20. There certainly is a Correlation Committee, but it does very little today. It does very minor things like fact checking.

    I wonder if it is like a pendulum swinging back in forth. In the early church you have many varied ideas and much discussion, then a strong central committee comes in and redefines the lessons around abstract ideas, the ideas are internalized to the point that the central committee loses some of its relevance and wanes in power, and eventually discussions start to develop and the varied ideas return.

    Wonder if the bloggernacle is evidence of the beginning of the third swing of the pendulum . . . .

  21. One of the key points, though, is that there isn’t a complete separation. The explicitly corporate organizational forms and property holding regimes do exert massive influence on the institution. And vice versa.

  22. Thomas Parkin says:

    The neccesity of something like correlation seems pretty obvious, to me. This series has given me a lot to think about, however, and I’ve enjoyed it very much.

    Learning really is moving forward towards each succesive horizon. We are indeed given to think that learning is about constantly returning away from the horizons to the familiar until those paths are so tread, though, and that is both troubling and, for me, heartbreaking. But if our hearts weren’t broken we’d have nothing to offer up, so there you go. ~

  23. Steve, I have no problem with your #18.

  24. Kristine, it’s a serious discussion and I am taking it seriously, not cynically. I don’t think you’re necessarily approaching these points from the same background I am.

    Brad, your #21 is definitely a key point, but in my mind it remains to be shown exactly how those organization forms impact the teachings of the institution – or rather, to show causation rather than (for lack of a better word) Correlation.

  25. Kristine says:

    Well, no, since you’re a male, Canadian lawyer who thinks riding bikes up giant mountains is fun, I’d say we’re definitely approaching from very different backgrounds. I’m not sure that’s relevant to which of our readings is most appropriate to the text at hand.

    If that was just a diplomatic way to say I don’t know what I’m talking about, that’s ok :)

  26. harikari says:

    @4 – I was once told directly by a member of the correlation review committee that they had been instructed not to cite anything from JoD that could be cited from an alternative source, to avoid encouraging members to read it. Antipathy towards JoD goes back at least to the 1960s and Mark E. Petersen’s crusade to stamp out its use. Peterson himself basically stated the correlation policy, e.g., “It seems to me that we have so many good books in the Church that are accepted that we could do very well to obtain what we need from the Journal of Discourses from the books that the Church itself has published, such for instance as the Discourses of Brigham Young, prepared by Dr. Widtsoe” (Letter from Mark E. Petersen to Ernest Cook, 30th November 1976).

    Ya know, Petersen is really someone who deserves a good critical biography, as a fairly significant figure in the birth of modern Mormonism, I think. His wiki bio says he first coined the term “Mormon fundamentalist” as a pejorative for polygamists in the 40s. He was later called as Richard R. Lyman’s replacement in the Twelve. Some sort of cosmic congruity in that.

  27. Well done. I am tempted to read the dissertation based on this series. Not sure if I’ll get around to it or not, but very interesting series either way.

  28. Aaron Brown says:

    Some obscure trivia re: the JD:

    Joseph Fielding Smith’s multi-volume _Answers to Gospel Questions_ periodically cites to the JD, and when it does it always provides the relevant JD citation. Except in one case, where the citation is omitted, thereby making it difficult to check the quote for accuracy. Turns out the quote is actually doctored at one key point, so as to make it say precisely the opposite of what it actually says. As a result, the quote is made to support Smith’s argument, though it would have obliterated it if it had been quoted accurately.

    Yes, the LDS church leadership has had a complicated relationship to the JD.

  29. The comment regarding not citing the JofD was taken from the committee notes. The did not want people going to the JD.

  30. I’m not sure how to answer declarations regarding my work from people who’ve not actually read it, but have some vague impressions on the basis of their reading of the posted conversations. We did a decent job summarizing certain points that I assumed didn’t require elaborate training to grasp. I am evidently again proved wrong.

    Monocausal theory? Determinisitic? A disservice? Is the institution a church or a corporation? What about the existence of Masonry in Utah? Doesn’t ‘priesthood’ mean whatever I want it to? I know a guy who once saw Lee drive past, and then saw a sunbeam dance across the sky? Does using the word ‘corporation’ convey some secret? Does using this word say such-and-such about a person? What about how this idea goes here, and then goes there? I dispute your use of this term as not correct according to how certain people use a term, and so won’t engage your argument.
    Seriously? I’d like to hear an actual argument against what I’ve argued, and then I could at least guess that my argument has been understood.
    Here’s some help: The dissertation describes how ‘the mind’ as a discursively ordered achievement allowed for new forms of ‘religion’ to develop, and that these forms took a shape sometimes called “Correlation”. The effects of this ‘correlation’ shape how one reads texts (perhaps as something like a ‘thought’ rather than a word), and does so in a way that seems like no change has happened. Do I have evidence for this argument? Apparently enough to pass the review of a fairly distinguished dissertation committee. If you’d like to decide, take the Reading Rainbow challenge, and read it for yourself. If you’d like to argue with the dissertation, read it, and publish a review somewhere I can read it. “I don’t like the use of this word” is not something I’m going to bother engaging any longer. That IS Correlation, and I intentionally didn’t submit my dissertation for review by any Correlation Committee.

  31. I lack the intellectual chops to offer any criticism, constructive or otherwise, but I have really enjoyed this series. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Thanks for the time and work you took in putting it together.

  32. Caraway says:

    Wow. Sorry to have stepped on your toes, Daymon. My comment sprang from what I read in *this* presentation, not what you presented elsewhere. *This* audience includes Latter-day Saints whose use for your presentation must necessarily differ from the use made by your dissertation committee. *They* don’t have to consider how your ideas color a believer’s reaction to his next Priesthood quorum discussion.

  33. I have enjoyed reading the series. I admit that I haven’t been able to follow everything presented, as I am not a scholar of these matters, but I trust that Daymon did his research and knows what he is talking about.

    In regards to this series as a presentation of Daymon’s research, my one quibble is something that I have brought up before: there was a lot of discussion, in the early stages, of the desire of both members of the LDS Church and the Fundamentalists to seek the Lord’s will through prayer. Unfortunately, this aspect of the discussion disappeared as the discussion turned to the creation of the Correlation Committee and Harold B. Lee. I find myself wondering why there was no discussion indicating that Lee sought the Lord’s will in creating modern Correlation. Seeking the Lord’s will was explicitly discussed in the beginning. Why not in the end?

  34. Natalie B. says:

    I thought this was an excellent series, illuminating one of the topics I have been most curious about. Daymon, I hope you get a very nice academic job!

  35. Left Field says:

    #12: Not true. The Joseph F. Smith and Wilford Woodruff manuals, at least, also mention polygamy.

  36. Kristine says:

    Caraway, I believe that a believer’s reaction to his next priesthood quorum discussion is entirely in his own control. Surely you can think critically about whatever ideas you don’t like in the transcripts here…

  37. David Howlett says:

    This is an amazing series! I just stumbled across this last interview session. Thank you for posting this and posting a link to your dissertation. (Five hundred pages! I can only imagine what your committee thought when they got it.)

    As an historian and a Community of Christ member, I only know about correlation from Mauss’s writing; your posts were very enlightening.

    Now, the hermeneutic that you describe as a disembodied correllated hermeneutic seems as if it shares a lot in common with a standard Protestant fundamentalist hermeneutic–itself a product of modernity that assumes that the Bible is an atomized fact book that can be deployed to answer anything. And most folks trace this back to an appropriation of Baconian rationalism in the early nineteenth century by American divines. Okay…so I did not read all of your dissertation (I skimmed the first section and the correlation section) and may be you tracked this evolution already. After reading historians of American Protestant fundamentalism, such as George Marsden, I have just assumed that Mormon reading habits are not that different than other American Christian fundamentalists. The texts are just different, I had reasoned. After encountering your work, I’m not so sure about by glib assessment of modern LDS=Protestant fundamentalists with different scriptures (that’s an exaggeration, of course). So, how do you think about the relationship between fundamentalist Protestants and their reading practices and average LDS members and their hermeneutical practices?

  38. Caraway says:

    Now I understand why Steve Evans deleted his last comment. He didn’t want to deal with Kristine as well as Daymon.

  39. Daymon and Brad__you did a great job, thank you. Also a tip of the hat to all those read it, and tried in good faith, to follow a well formed argument.

  40. Fantastic series. I am still mulling some of the finer points of this admittedly scaled down argument. (I’d read the dissertation except for that would take precious time from writing my own!) I think the series did a nice job of confirming what I’ve always thought – that as Mormons, we have so ingrained in ourselves certain ways of reading texts and speech that we can shed our “gospel light” or frame on most anything. It also filled in some interesting early 20th century history for me. Well done!

  41. Jonathan Green says:

    Daymon, I think you’ve said some important and truly insightful things. This last installment especially has made several points that I find incredibly useful. But it’s impossible to say anything significant without meeting some disagreement, and I wish you saw the value in that disagreement.

    You say: read my dissertation, and then argue with it. But the game doesn’t work like that, as you know. Unrevised dissertations don’t get reviewed. They get ignored. The ball is still in your court as the author to revise the dissertation into publishable form so that it’s accessible and marketable to educated readers outside your narrow field.

    So here you have an educated audience from outside your field that is highly interested in the condensed version of your dissertation. You can ignore our comments, or you can use them to make your argument stronger.

    Whatever you do, good luck. Brad introduced you in the first installment as “the most important scholar of Mormonism that you’ve never heard of,” and now I believe that you’ve lived up to your billing.

  42. Latter-day Guy says:

    Daymon and Brad: many, many thanks! I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, and consider it some of the most intriguing Church/Mormon history material I have read since RSR. (I am in the process of nibbling away at the dissertation proper, but it’ll be a while.) Thanks for taking the time to make these discussions available!

    Aaron (28): I’m interested to know the citations of what you mentioned above. Is it still the case or has that since been edited?

  43. Whew. I just finished reading this series straight through – a worthy hour spent, I think. Certainty it has improved my understanding of Church history and the dynamics which fuel it. I thank you guys for posting it.

    One objection, however. You state:

    And they give you the privilege of going back and reading, say, Plato and restructure his entire arguments around these correlated categories and thus discover for yourself that Plato indeed taught the Eternal and Unchanging Gospel, which in some sense maybe he did, but not necessarily the Gospel of Correlation. My concern with the entire dissertation was to explain how historical processes such as the Underground, or some of these theological changes, and political changes, relate to the ways in which we tell our histories. What I argue ultimately is that it changes the way we approach the texts, all texts. You can get very smart people at the Summer Seminar, and they can go back and read these texts, but read them as Correlated Minds. So history, here, becomes another space for colonization, just like Native America or Latin America. But it’s a very subtle kind of reconstruction, in which we only allow certain things to exist within certain Mormon properties.

    This whole summation strikes me as a bit odd. Not because I disagree with it – I agree with you full-heartedly, we do have correlated minds. Rather, it is the emphasis of your claims I find a bit strange. You speak of this as a Mormon phenomenon, when really it is much larger than the 14 or so million people in our church. This is a universal attribute. I do not think you can find anybody on this Earth without a correlated mind.

    To take the example you highlight in this paragraph, I ask: who was the first to “discover for [themselves] that Plato indeed taught the Eternal and Unchanging Gospel?” How about that chap named Augustine? What was his ‘Christianization’ of the classical philosophers but ‘correlation’ by an older name? And Augustine was hardly alone in this – near every thinker from Seneca to Ardent has placed their own eternal and unchanging truths into Plato’s works.

    I know I do as much myself. I go through my copies of Meditations, de Providentia, and The Enchiridion with a red pencil, happy to highlight the parts I think ring true and leave the rest to be.* I have often thought of writing a guide as to how the ideas of these Stoics could be reconciled with my own (LDS inspired) religious beliefs. But whose lead am I following here? Is it the influence of Lee or Augustine that prompts my desire to ‘correlate’ (or perhaps ‘Christianize’) Epictetus?

    I submit that my desire is grounded in something more fundamental than either’s influence. I need only see my friends on the right and the left claim that it was their Eternal and Everlasting Truths uttered by Lincoln and Jefferson to know that this need to colonize exists in realms far outside the Gospel. (Or to take an example much closer to my field of study – in my short life I cannot think of more than two articles that I have ever come across that do not completely decontextualizing and then ideologically hijack quotations from Sunzi’s Art of War. The day when strategists realize that the writers of that work were was writing for a specific 5th century audience in response to specific 5th century strategic challenges will be the day I can die a happy man.)

    This is how the human mind works. It is in our nature to take the great mass of unrelated chaos and create some shape and form out of it. In order to understand our incomprehensible universe we reduce it to a series of narratives – and yes, abstract nouns.

    I do not think this to be such a bad thing. Not all of us have the time (or brilliance) to build the world around us, ala Descartes. Civilization has benefited from humanity’s ability to fit the world inside the flow charts of our mind.

    Would you have it any other way? Can you imagine a committee working on a new textbook for the average HIST 201 (World Hist. to 1500) class could do it in any other way? Are they to step back and reread every piece of primary source material and then decide what shall go in their book? Or shall they do the sensible thing and create a flowchart of the chapter headings and subheadings and then look for possible sources to provide the text’s meat. Planning seminars and or writing sweeping period pieces is always an act of correlation.

    Does all this make sense? The rest of the world ‘colonizes’ the past as much as we do. The only real difference between other folk’s correlation and our own is that the terms and categories we use have been institutionalized.

    *Not quite true – I also have a purple highlighter to use on the parts I think are importantly important for the writer’s argument, but with which I disagree, and a blue pencil for those statements which are of worth for understanding the time in which the work was written.

  44. I really enjoyed this series. I’m a lifetime member, but I’m ignorant of a lot of how the church got from the 19th century to now, so I appreciate the time you guys took to share your discussion. I find it fascinating to think about the framework people use to view the world, but I find it even more fascinating that church leadership played an active role in shaping a lot the framework we use today.

    Now I’d be interesting in seeing a discussion on the implications of correlation. I get the impression that you two (Brad and Daymon) find it, for the most part, a positive change for a growing church. But are there any dangers? And if there are, what should be done about them?

  45. T. Greer,
    You’re right that something like Correlation operates in the minds and lives of virtually all “modern” persons. There are distinctive features to how we, as Mormons, have operationalized these processes with such profoundly religious valency. But part of the reason for emphasizing the corporate structures of the modern Church is that when you view the Church as a functioning corporation, something like Correlation becomes utterly unremarkable. It would be strange if it didn’t exist in some form.

  46. Kristine says:

    Caraway, Steve and I are best friends. I feel pretty sure that he’s confident of his ability to deal with me.

    You’re leveling some pretty heavy charges at Daymon, and since he’s our guest here, I feel compelled to defend him where I feel those charges are unfair (and, frankly, rather strange–it’s really not his fault if you find his arguments strong enough to be unsettling).

  47. #30 seems like an unusually defensive response to what strikes me as a fair and spirited discussion of the work. And I must say that it is a bit dubious to lean so heavily on the strength of one’s dissertation committee to deflect reasonable questions about the work.

  48. 47.
    “fair and spirited” apparently have different definitions. I hardly lean on the strength of the dissertation commitee, though given it was at Penn, I am comfortable doing so. I lean on the work itself.

  49. T. Greer,
    I agree that the method of reading I describe is common, and of course, found outside Mormonism. I am tracking how this method was taken up, and the structural/organizational bodies that arrayed around it (e.g., Correlation). Thank you for broadening the argument.

  50. I found this to be a very interesting series. Thank you, Brad and Daymon for putting this together.

    As a result of this series, I have a couple of questions that, while not wanting to take this thread in a different direction, I will post and hope someone can direct me.

    1. Regarding polygamy, I had no idea that there was a ‘second’ manifesto and the practice (multiple wife marriages / sealings) lingered on as long as it did. This raises in my mind what might be a similar situation with the adaptation of the Word of Wisdom. When did it become ‘official’ – official perhaps in the sense that one had to be living the W.O.W to enter the temple. Was there a similar transition with ‘Young Utah’?

    2. I first attended the temple in 1968 and and since then there has been a number of changes. There was a reference in the series to a change made in the early 1900’s. I’m curious to know what has been modified in the endowment over time, prior to ’68. This is not the forum to get into specifics, but it is something I’ve thought about.

  51. Daymon,
    I actually think that your work is very strong, which is precisely why I’m so puzzled by your defensiveness. To be fair, though, you did cite your committee’s approval of your dissertation as evidence of its strength and then you reminded us again that you went to Penn. So what?

  52. Mommie Dearest says:

    I don’t find this series unsettling so much as enlightening. Maybe it’s a sign of how well correlated I am that it takes an awful lot to unsettle my faith.

    I give myself a C+ in reading and comprehension, I got busy and wasn’t able to read the middle postings, with the details about HBLee and his List. And my old brain is rather feeble when it comes to post-graduate dissertations and such. I had a vague notion of how the manifestoes and the split with the fundamentalists went down, but this presentation really brought a lot into focus about how challenging that was for the church. It’s kind of amazing we survived. (Or did we?)

    One question came to mind as I was reading this last section, about the legacy left to us from earlier prophets being correlated by subsequent prophets and apostles: Isn’t that at least part of what a living prophet does? Or am I just thoroughly indoctrinated by the concept of correlation.

    OTOH, if the widespread creeping boredom in Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society is the fruit of all this correlationnivity, it can’t be such a good thing. Can it? Is boredom evil? Is it only due to correlation-overload, or are there other factors?

    You’ve raised a lot of questions for me to bat around.

  53. i loved all 9 parts of the conversation. rich in historical detail and fascinating.

    i would love to see daymon engage the questions in this thread as were brad’s during the discussion itself. we are not a hostile group attacking the work but a group who want to better understand and challenege the ideas.

    thank you both again for taking the time to present!

  54. Daymon, regarding the key more philosophical claim about the linguistic influence, I confess I’m skeptical but I wouldn’t want to comment until I’d read the thesis itself. Are you planning on publishing it as a book?

  55. For now, Clark, it’s available in bound, book format. But I also know that at some point Daymon plans to revise it and possibly turn it into 2 separate books.

    Thanks for the kind words, paul f.

  56. I’m just not going to have time (or money) to buy the current version. However I really look forward to the book if he does revise it. While I’ve been a bit skeptical in places, this is also simultaneously exactly the kind of research I want more of in Mormon history: linking up with larger theoretical models. So I’m very appreciative of that – I’m just skeptical of a near linguistic determinism more characteristic of Sapir/Whorf.

  57. Caraway says:

    46: I point to the large number of comments on the conference threads laughing at this or that conference statement having been correlated. I realize that in that context most if not all of the statements were made in jest. All the same, in a few days when most readers will have forgotten virtually all specifics, what they will retain is the idea that made those remarks “funny”: Correlation is bad. Correlation distorts. Correlation masks the truth. Our manuals and teachers and speakers can’t be trusted because they’re merely repeating what a nameless committee of bureaucrats has decided to feed the masses in place of the truth. I’m smarter and more informed than any teacher, manual, or speaker because I know the secret of correlation — even if I can’t quite explain what I “know” and or how I “know” it, I know that formal church teachings have been debunked somewhere by somebody — I don’t remember his name, but it was that guy at BCC. He proved that all standard LDS teachings are bunk, because he exposed correlation for what it is. I don’t remember how, but I know he did it.

    I think even bloggers have a responsibility to consider how their posts will affect readers. I’m not saying they shouldn’t report their findings, or that they have to preach the gospel all the time, or that they to channel Boyd K. Packer all or any of the time. But I think experienced bloggers ought to think about how their words will affect casual readers in the long run and reign in their hubris a little bit.

    I also understand that this comment will not be well received.

  58. Kristine says:

    Why would you (or anyone) take bloggers that seriously? I don’t think any of us think we’re “proving” or “debunking” anything, or even doing much more than chatting about aspects of Mormonism we find intriguing or puzzling or infuriating. I’m not sure we can be held responsible for people’s inability to distinguish blogging from more rigorous forms of discourse.

  59. Kristine says:

    Also,

    “I’m not saying …that they [have] to channel Boyd K. Packer all or any of the time”

    Whew! :)

  60. Brad and Daymon,three things:

    1)I like how you tied back correlation to the affects of the underground and the challenges created by the transition period between 1890 amd 1903.

    2)I see correlation as a positive and divinely inspired thing. I doubt the Brethren have “lost the ability to speculate” anymore than you and I have. They just don’t do it publically and that is a good policy.
    I once attended a YSA fireside presided over by Elder Bednar. And the thing that stuck out to me was that this man(Elder Bednar) was most concerned about us learning things that were practicle and applicable, and that those things came to us individually by the Holy Ghost.

    3)Boring people get bored:) If we get bored in Sunday school, Institute or even the temple, that isn’t the fault of the Church.
    The Lord is the true head of the Church and I really see our modern leaders hesitancy to speculate on the record and mostly limit themselves to teaching principles we can apply in the day to day as a manifestation of His will.

    I’m sure my comments sound trite but I can’t help it. All in all, thanks for providing an interesting and thought provoking read.

  61. Kristine says:

    Sorry if I’m being too dogged, I’m really wanting to understand your criticism. How, exactly, would a blogger wanting to follow your advice go about it? Is it a matter of tone? Are there some subjects that just shouldn’t be brought up? Do criticisms of the church need to carry a black-box warning that they may be hazardous to one’s spiritual health and lead to a cynical reception of the next Elders’ Quorum discussion?

    It seems to me that no one could ever responsibly say anything if every possible misreading or failure of critical thought by a reader makes the blogger morally culpable.

  62. Steve Evans says:

    Thinking about the impact of our words is good advice for anyone, be they experienced blogger or pseudonymous commenter.

  63. Latter-day Guy says:

    Correlation is bad. Correlation distorts. Correlation masks the truth.

    Oh, for heaven’s sake. Given that most modern scholars seem to agree that “objective” history is pretty much unobtainable, it’s not positing some kind of Gadianton conspiracy to suggest that the “Correlation” process is biased––who really thought otherwise, even before this discussion? The benefit of these discussions (and the dissertation they stem from) is, imo, getting a better understanding of what historical events shaped the process, how it works, what “fingerprints” has it left on Mormon culture, Mormon language, and Mormon minds.

    I’m smarter and more informed than any teacher, manual, or speaker because I know the secret of correlation — even if I can’t quite explain what I “know” and or how I “know” it, I know that formal church teachings have been debunked somewhere by somebody — I don’t remember his name, but it was that guy at BCC. He proved that all standard LDS teachings are bunk, because he exposed correlation for what it is. I don’t remember how, but I know he did it. … I think experienced bloggers ought to think about how their words will affect casual readers in the long run and reign in their hubris a little bit.

    One could as easily say: “I’m more faithful, I’m more sensitive, and I’m much more humble than those wicked apostate bloggers because I don’t do x, y, or z…” Stop projecting, dude.

    Happy freakin’ Easter.

  64. Kristine says:

    Oh, there you go again, Steve–all reasonable and civil-like. :P

  65. Caraway says:

    “Dogged” would be one word for it.

    Look, it’s not that I’m taking bloggers too seriously, although Daymon is taking himself pretty seriously when it comes to comments. I haven’t been reading Mormon blogs long enough to know how seriously readers take them. I do have some experience, however, with the effect of the alternative LDS journals on the lives of some people. (I realize I could be treading on your toes again, Kristine. Please do not ask me to identify my experience; I won’t elaborate.) Having insider knowledge that isn’t available to most people, or if available is not widely known, appeals to us all. It isn’t the specific knowledge that is valued; it is having that knowledge that matters all too often.

    Since C.S. Lewis seems to be extractable for almost any discussion, I submit this quotation from his essay “Learning in War-Time”:

    The intellectual life is not the only road to God, nor the safest, but we find it to be a road, and it may be the appointed road for us. Of course, it will be so only so long as we keep the impulse pure and disinterested. That is the great difficulty. As the author of the Theologia Germanica says, we may come to love knowledge — our knowing — more than the thing known; to delight not in the exercise of our talents but in the fact that they are ours, or even in the reputation they bring us. Every success in the scholar’s life increases this danger.

    I think any topic can be tackled in just about any venue. Responsible scholars, however, in my view, will be aware of the probable effect of their topics on their readers, especially within the church where we have, or ought to have, loyalties above secular reputations. This has nothing to do with misreadings or failures of critical thought on the part of readers. It has everything to do with how a writer presents his ideas. What’s that scriptural verse about “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth [or pen or keyboard], this defileth a man”? (Please resist the temptation to condemn me for apparently condemning Daymon and Brad. I am not condemning them. I simply wish to point out that writers have a responsibility for how their ideas are expressed in writing and tone and intent, and that the responsibility doesn’t lie entirely with the reader.)

  66. Caraway says:

    “Stop projecting, dude.” Ditto, Latter-day Guy. It never occurred to me that there was a question of apostasy involved here.

  67. Latter-day Guy says:

    It never occurred to me that there was a question of apostasy involved here.

    Okaaaay… So statements like “I know that formal church teachings have been debunked,” and “…all standard LDS teachings are bunk,” are characterizations of faithful orthodoxy?

  68. Caraway says:

    People can be misled, Latter-day Guy, and attitudes that make people less teachable can be indulged, without there being any guilt of apostasy.

  69. Latter-day Guy says:

    68, Fair enough.

    Please consider the applicable paragraph of comment 63 changed to read as follows:

    One could as easily say: “I’m more faithful, I’m more sensitive, and I’m much more humble than those bloggers [who may mislead and indulge "attitudes that make people less teachable," though––to be clear––without any guilt of apostasy] because I don’t do x, y, or z…”

    In all sincerity, people who come away from reading these discussions saying, “Correlation is bad. Correlation distorts. Correlation masks the truth,” have misunderstood them. Examining social/historical phenomena which result in a certain bias (and, again, who doesn’t expect Church manuals/materials to have some bias?) is not the same as saying that “all standard LDS teachings are bunk.” Not remotely.

  70. Mommie Dearest says:

    I think BCC readers deserve a little more credit for being able to think for themselves, and read all kinds of material in reasonable safety, without unduly endangering their testimonies. But maybe I’m just optimistic that way, because that’s what I expect of myself. I didn’t come away from this material thinking that correlation was bad, instead, I have a deeper understanding of what it is and how it has been applied in the past century. I also believe that it’s still an incomplete understanding. That’s all.

  71. Kristine says:

    “realize I could be treading on your toes again, Kristine.”

    That’s ok; they’re not gouty. (Honk if you get the Hume reference).

    I appreciate your elaboration, and I think I finally understand what you’re getting at. I have seen the effects you describe (or similar ones), and I spend a good deal of my time thinking about how to avoid producing them. However, the temptation to pride in esoteric knowledge is not, I think, the fault of those who wish to supply knowledge. What can be their fault is providing incomplete or consciously biased information with a deliberate intent to deceive or mystify. Still, the situation you’ve described, someone not remembering the specifics (or referring to them) but just being smug about their superior intellect, is really a problem with the reader’s pride, and something it would be quite difficult for an author to control for.

    I do think writers (and editors) are responsible for their own intentions. If Daymon’s or Brad’s were nefarious, they should be called to account for them, but you’ve been at pains not to make that sort of accusation, at least not explicitly. Part of my doggedness with you is wanting you to be explicit; I dislike vagueness and insinuation.

    Finally, since my toe is throbbing just a little, I’ll say that I strongly suspect independent publications have kept more people in the church than they have driven from it. That is certainly the case for me. Some days, I think there are plenty of folks who wish it were otherwise, who would very much prefer a church without me or my ilk.

    And some days, I’m jealous of those people–I wish I found the path of faith a little smoother. I think it would be easier if wading through a nine-part interview transcript (and ordering the @$@! dissertation, which will in turn mean ordering another 10 books from the bibliography for remedial theory instruction) didn’t feel important to my faith. I wish it had been the Ensign and not _The Angel and the Beehive_ that resolved a bout of college angst; there are easier ways than mine, or at least ways that _look_ easier from the outside. And that’s the problem, of course–we’re always looking from the outside, and we really can’t see anyone else’s path clearly enough to know with any degree of certainty whether we’re throwing down a rope they can pull themselves up with, or one they’ll trip on. You’re right to remind us we should try, but I fear we may be better off to pray for grace than to try to anticipate others’ reactions to our work.

    Which is a very long-winded way to say we probably don’t disagree all that much, and I’m sorry I was snotty about the little bit we do disagree about.

  72. To follow up with what Latter-day Guy said, I don’t think anybody should come away from this series feeling that Brad and Daymon set out to “debunk” LDS teachings, or to indicate that Correlation is bad.

    Rather the opposite. Correlation is how we make sense of the Gospel. Correlation is how the Gospel message is shared throughout the world. And Correlation is how we interpret the words of those in the past through a modern understanding.

    One could quite easily argue that Correlation is simply an application of 1 Nephi 19:23 – of likening these things unto ourselves. Or, from a more academic standpoint, Correlation is the LDS equivalent of Louise Rosenblatt’s Transactional Theory of Literary Work.

  73. yossarian says:

    It seems that Brad and Daymon’s intent was not to state that correlation is bad. But what if it was? What if someone reading it, understood it, but still decided that its benefits outweighed its other consequences? Do we have to have a testimony that correlation is good?

    I understand defending doctrines but do we have to defend correlation or the manner in which things are transmitted to us? I just want to know what is expected of me.

  74. thanks to Kristine for the honest, revealing defense of non-Correlated venues. Some people rejected the gospel after D&C 76 was revealed, should it have been set aside? Some left after the 1978 Declaration; some joined after polygamy was abolished, while others left.

    If the point of the Church is to accumulate members, than I can see why one would attempt to create a discursive space where nothing but a particular message is heard/said. But I find no evidence that the Church exists only to add members; rather it is to teach us certain principles (among other works).

    Charity tends to be in short supply everywhere, and I think attempts to blame another for one’s discomforts, spiritually speaking, is to take the role of the Accuser. If someone lost their testimony because they read these posts, I can sleep well enough assuming they really didn’t own such a weighty thing if it was so easily misplaced.

    I tend to go with a ‘if it works for you’ approach. If you like the latest manual, and it fulfills everything and can be applied to every day life, fantastic. If you find correlated materials lacking in some way, and so look to other resources, fine again. So, was Correlation ‘good’ or ‘bad’?
    Depends on what you’d call ‘good’ and ‘bad’, of course.

    If, however, someone wants to stop another, either from reading the SS manual, or Kant, or Dialogue, because it might do them some harm, I would argue against that. Truth might offend, but it also has something of reputation for setting folks free. And Correlation has never claimed a monopoly on Truth. How could it, given that Correlation rather follows Truth in the chronology of Creation? If I wanted a world entirely controlled from some ‘higher-up’, I am certain I could’ve gone to places other than planet earth.

  75. Clark,
    the dissertation is free (though time ain’t, I suppose).
    Regards the ‘sapir-whorf’ stuff, I am probably right in guessing we have rather different understandings of what sapir, and then whorf, had to say. there is, as you know, no such thing as a “Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis” except one constructed by cognitivist-oriented folks, which is to say, a straw man. I plan to publish a more linguistic focused discussion of historical process at some point, but not for a few years, probably.

  76. Taysom,
    thanks for the compliments about the work.
    The reference to Penn was only to point out that there is a difference between a blog post read in passing by folks rightly interested only in a few details, and a dissertation read, carefully, by professionals interested in deciding whether this student has a grasp of the ways of the world of academia, and evidences such in an extended study.

    I don’t expect the same care from honest folks reading posts online, but I also don’t expect the sort of flippant disputations tossed about as though I were just giving my opinion on the day’s events. In part the medium itself makes something like academic discourse impossible, give and take, evidence and argument. But it has virtues, and for those reasons I thought it worthwhile to discuss the dissertation here, in hopes of providing (some? a few?) readers some few ‘notions’ I got from a bit of study.

  77. Daymon, it was worthwhile. There are always more readers who keep to themselves but continue reading without comment. I have greatly appreciated this series and enjoyed your “notions” as well as Brad’s.

  78. Daymon,
    Thanks for the clarification–and I’m glad you read my “so what” as an honest question and not as some sort of rhetorical insult.

  79. Caraway says:

    An experiment for Mommie Dearest, and for anyone who still insists that I think Daymon had evil intent or that there is no middle ground between censorship and free inquiry:

    A few months ago BCC had quite a discussion of Thomas B. Marsh and the milk strippings story (that is the post which first brought BCC to my attention). If you were teaching a lesson and that story was included, I suspect that most readers who remember the post would go back to review it to be sure they had the new details right.

    But what if the story came up unexpectedly? Say your stake president referred to it in a stake conference address and you hadn’t had notice to review the BCC post. Do you remember the blogger’s argument in sufficient detail to recall it on the spur of the moment? Do you remember who posted it, and his level of trustworthiness? (I am not saying he is NOT trustworthy; I mean only to ask, Are you sure of your source, or has the story become something by somebody that you heard somewhere, but you can’t remember quite what and who and where?) Is the traditional story completely false, or only incomplete? Did anyone challenge the poster’s version? If so, did the challenger present credible evidence? Are you really sure you remember the evidence one way or the other, or are you missing the point of your stake president’s talk because you’re sure he’s wrong but can’t say how exactly? Are you smug because you know — even if you can’t quite remember — better than he does?

    That is the kind of discomfort I have about teaching church members in any venue that what they’ve always assumed or been explicitly taught isn’t true. It isn’t that corrections aren’t needed and welcomed, or that new ideas and interpretations shouldn’t be explored. But I can’t help but believe that isn’t a way and a tone in discussions among church members (apart from academia, which has its own standards and methods and tones) to present corrections and challenges and new interpretations so that more casual, less academic readers will recall, when the subject comes up again, that “there is even more to this topic than is traditionally presented,” not that “what my stake president is saying is wrong, and I cannot trust him on this and perhaps other matters.”

    I’m sure this is more on this subject than you care to hear from me, so I’ll have to trust that my point is clear or that I’ve run out of chances to clarify.

  80. Caraway,
    I think you’ve done a good job at clarifying your concerns here. You’re right that these things can be difficult to explain in a public forum without coming across as overly critical. And even if I don’t personally share your degree of concern, thank you for taking the time and effort to outline what you’re thinking, when you could have just as easily dismissed the conversation and moved on. I hope you’ll continue your thoughtful participation at BCC.

  81. I’ve seen the exact thing Caraway describes in #79 in my own experiences. For example, check out the post here, and comments 4 and 7.

    Jessawhy and I exchanged some email after that. Essentially, she’d read my post criticizing two Hebrew points in an Ensign article. The topic had come up over dinner with a friend, and she attempted to relate the points from my post. That dinner conversation did not go well, since she was (perceived as) criticizing the Ensign and a GA based on some nameless guy’s internet argument that she couldn’t remember well. (In all fairness, it’s semi-technical.)

  82. Kristine says:

    Caraway, you said, “That is the kind of discomfort I have about teaching church members in any venue that what they’ve always assumed or been explicitly taught isn’t true.”

    Wouldn’t it be better to be uncomfortable with the fact that what they’re explicitly taught isn’t true? (!) The only real solution to the problem is to make sure that correlated materials are as accurate and complete as possible. And the only way I know of to do that is to publish corrections in places that are willing to do so, which, alas, do not include most official church publications. It seems to me that having people understand some of the history of correlation is potentially helpful, too–part of the reason we’re not in the habit of critical evaluation (of either lessons or blog posts) is the cultural perception that the church curriculum, in its current and perfect form, is dropped from the heavens. When people then transfer that perception of the authority of the printed word to places like blogs, or Dialogue, that are explicitly and avowedly NOT authoritative, then they have trouble. Likewise, the church culture that allows comments in Relief Society to begin with “I can’t remember who said it, but it was a General Authority…” and be received as gospel truth, inculcates precisely the habits of mind that lead to “I can’t remember who said it, but it was a blogger on a Mormon site (or a professor writing in BYU Studies or Dialogue)…” being an acceptable antecedent for the sort of smug certainty of one’s superior wisdom you decry. And I think this is the core of our disagreement: I don’t believe the solution to that problem is less critical discourse or openness; I believe that the solution is to be found in a more robust intellectual engagement with especially the scriptures, but also with curriculum and church history.

    (Also, for whatever personal anecdote is worth, I generally don’t feel at all smug when teachers or class members are repeating things I know to be incorrect or incomplete–I just feel uncomfortable and nervous about whether I can find a way to contribute a clarification in a way that’s productive and non-confrontational. Usually I can’t figure out how to do it, so I just sit there, miserable.)

  83. Caraway,
    What Brad just said (re thanks, and please keep participating).

    Also, what Kristine just said; as uncomfortable as it may make some moments, the only ways to improve that awkwardness or eliminate any potential smugness is to fully insulate the populace from corrections or additions to correlated materials, or else to increase the amount of exposure to such corrections, so that misunderstandings do not persist.

    The better path seems obvious, even to an anal retentive orthodox Mormon like me.

  84. I rush to add that, despite my agreement with Brad and Kristine that these discussions must be had publicly, I totally agree also that we need to be careful in how we say things in this realm. I have made an arse of myself multiple times here at BCC by pulling posts down after I realized that they were giving a message I didn’t intend, and will likely do it again many times.

  85. Eric Russell says:

    Caraway, while I concur with the general sentiment of maintaining awareness of the potential ramifications of our words, I really don’t think we need to worry too much about increasing people’s intellectual smugness. Around these parts, it’s off the charts no matter what you say.

  86. Steve Evans says:

    What Eric said. Believe him, he’s an authority.

  87. Aaron Brown says:

    In fairness to the BCC permas, Eric, the collective IQ around here really is off-the-charts. I mean, somebody has to be the smartest guy in the room (or the church), and acknowledging this isn’t “smugness” — it’s just an objective description of reality, coupled with a thankfulness to the Lord that, in his infinite wisdom, He really did make us better than everybody else.

    :)

  88. Caraway, I think if you look at the comments the majority of people were praising correlation. I certainly have. However even good things have tradeoffs. Yet I think the reality of having a huge Church spread around the world demands correlation. But correlation means that you have earnest spiritual people writing manuals and making mistakes. I think we’re all familiar with Dan Peterson’s infamous story of a joke he had in a manual that nearly made it through correlation.

    The problem I think is that too many members create a false dichotomy. Either everything in Church is “perfect” or else one can simply become a relativist and discount anything one doesn’t like. The wiser, more mature position is to recognize that often the things we don’t like are the very things we ought consider as important. (i.e. don’t discount them out of hand – we may be uncomfortable with them because they expose a truth we want to keep hidden – say some sin we like) Yet simulatenously we recognize the human fallibility of the people serving in the Church. I suspect this is easier for those of us who have been in leadership positions – even if only minor ones. After being in such a position I find it much, much, much more difficult to be critical of other leaders given how much I saw my own limitations.

    Ultimately I think the problem reduces to too many seeing Church as a place to be served rather than a place to serve. Correlation provides an organized way to help us serve. Yet if we look at it with a critical eye because it isn’t serving us enough we’ll always be disappointed. Church is an infirmary run by the infirmed.

    I think both those overly critical of correlation and those who demand it be perfect are making the same sort of mistake.

  89. Daymon, I must have missed it. Is your dissertation available electronically? I recall a comment where you said you could buy bound copies.

    Regarding Sapir-Whorf, I suspect you’re right that the “hypothesis” is more a construction – especially by philosophers of language and cognitive sciences. I’ve not read their original papers so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the hypothesis bears only a similarity to their actual views. That’s fairly common in academics I’ve noticed. (Much like what Descartes thought bears only a similarity to what is called and attacked as Cartesianism) That said it’s more the idea of linguistic determinism that I’m distrustful of rather the idea of linguistic influence.

    I understand you are, like myself, a bit of a Peircean. So I suspect what I am saying is best seen as emphasizing the role of chance and fallibilism over habit. I’d rather guess that the actual difference between us is more one of emphasis and degree rather than any real significant difference.

  90. Clark,
    I agree about Descartes, in particular. In my work I shift the discussion from a mind-language dyad (situated on individuals) to a discourse-imagination dialectic that works over historical times. Peirce is the influence here, as you guess, and I emphasize semiosis over strict cognition (as something operating in the mind) as the point to look for the influence of grammar on discursive imaginings, and thence, the way people are positioned vis-a-vis those new speculations (as, e.g., orthodox or heretical, scientists or fabulists).

  91. So,
    I’m a little confused what exactly the dispute involves.
    Is it that there is an imagined person, possibly in a branch on a distant island, who just might come across an article not adjusted to its (his or her, if this being has gender) level of faith and understanding? Because that was the very imagination that catalyzed Correlation (but not the historical causes, let’s say).

    Perhaps the argument is more subtle, less paternalistic. Is it that the sense of the authoritativeness of the message must not be questioned, because that alone, regardless of the truth or falsity of the claim, may harm somebody’s faith? Because I have a hard time seeing any gospel in that.
    Or, is it that someone might decontextualize, and misstate, and re-interpret, and guess at, something they read, casually, online? And by repeating, do harm to another?

    Or, I’ve misread the concerns, as I often do. Could someone clarify what they understand Caraway to be lamenting?

  92. This series has meant a great deal to me. Thank you, Brad and Daymon, for the conversation. I suppose I can understand why some readers are a bit squirmy about the potential negative impact of such a candid discussion on vulnerable LDS (planting seeds of doubt and so forth), but for myself the result has been the exact opposite. My faith has been strengthened in just the right places at just the right time, and for that I’m profoundly grateful.

    And Brad, extra thanks for your huge investment of time and energy in creating and moderating this series of posts. You make it look easy.

  93. Daymon,
    I think that at the end of the day the biggest problem Caraway has is the realization, from Part 26, that Kyle Korver is not a Mormon.

  94. Scott,
    I thought that Part 26 was just satire?
    He’s NOT a Mormon?
    Why, then, is he on the Correlation Committee for Basketball related publications?

  95. Just wait, I bet the next thing I hear on BCC is that Brother Hornacek isn’t happily teaching seminary in Arizona, either.

    How can I hope to withstand this onslaught of my delicate faith???

  96. Kristine, of course (although since you don’t know me, the “of course” isn’t necessarily obvious) it is important that errors be corrected, that truth be told, that assumptions be examined. My concern is not *that* it be done, but *how* it is done, and I think this series falls short in regard to the *how*.

    Daymon, my objections have been greatly magnified because of repeated clarifications. I don’t usually have this level of difficulty in written communications that I am having here. Your comment 91 communicates to me that you aren’t particularly interested in understanding my cautions or even speaking directly to me about them, because you use such hyperbole in what appears to me to be a sarcastic, mocking attitude.

    I apologize that my concerns have become such a distraction in the discussion here — that was not my intent. I do not apologize, however, for having those concerns, or for expressing them.

    And now I really am through with disturbing the lovefest on this post, although I hope to continue to participate as a commenter on other discussions.

  97. I am not positive, due in large part to the fact that I am not Caraway, but I think that the dispute is thus:

    A standard member of the Church, who attends all of his (I am going to go with the male gender here because I am guy, and can therefore relate) meetings, tries to fulfill his callings, and do all the things that good, standard Mormons do, is searching for something Mormon-y on teh Intrawebz and stumbles upon BCC. This good brother, intrigued by the numerous topics, begins to read all the articles and, since the Correlation posts are near the top, he reads them. All of them.

    This good brother, though, is not an academic. He is fairly smart, since all good Mormon men are supposed to be smart, and he feels he gets the gist of things. Because he feels he gets the gist of things, he is like those members who, previous to this last General Conference, knew very little about the history of the English Bible but, after Conference, now feel they are experts because they heard a talk by a GA on the subject. So this brother, now armed with his vast knowledge of Correlation and how it has caused doctrinal information to be shared within the Church, realises that there are some quotes that, given in the 19th Century, may not be interpreted correctly in the 21st Century.

    This brother goes to his Elders Quorum meeting, and here’s a quote from, say, President John Taylor, on the subject of Priesthood. But, aha! He remembers something from this very blog post on this very topic! And because he is now oh-so-smart, he takes the time to inform all of his Priesthood brethren that, while not being exactly lied to, they are not being given the Whole Truth, so help me God. And this causes the entire quorum to fall away into doubt and possibly even apostasy.

    After all this, Daymon, how do you feel knowing that, because you and Brad talked about something online, someone out there might possibly in the foreseeable future fall away from the Church because he didn’t actually understand all of what you had talked about?

    I think this is Caraway’s concern.

    Personally, I don’t see it happening, because most of the members of the quorum are probably just going to sit there and ignore this good brother, or chuckle at his bizarre notions. I know that is what happens in all of the wards I have been in when something like this happens.

  98. 97 Alex, I understand the concern to be less that some semi-informed comment in Elders Quorum causes others to fall away. Rather, that harboring vague doubts about the curriculum causes the semi-informed individual to close himself off from the spirit that might otherwise reach him during a lesson, the cumulative effect of which can be spiritually devastating.

    From my experience, the bloggernacle and the large number of well-informed and faithful people who participate is one of the greatest resources for a semi-informed person to both become well-informed and remain faithful.

  99. I want to join into the lovefest and again say how thoroughly I’ve enjoyed this. I am not an academic, but I do feel like I’ve gotten the gist, and if this series accomplishes nothing else, it at least has given me the framework to support my understanding that the manuals are not part of the canon.

    Over on Beginnings New we get constant admonitions to stop whining and embrace the manuals, but my spirit and my brain have always refused. I always felt like we can – and must – do better for our teenagers, but there was that part of me (the Correlated part?) that felt I was being unfaithful by wanting to venture off. Now when that angel appears on my shoulder I’m going to flick it right off and get back to using the gifts I’ve been given.

  100. Daymon (30),
    I know your comments in 30 are a way long time ago, and this ship has almost certainly passed, but you ask some fair questions, and ask why nobody’s making a solid argument against you on certain things.

    I can’t speak to most of them, but I’ll bring up one last time the emphasis placed on the corporate structure of the church. The way you guys frame it, you suggest that there is some meaning behind the church’s incorporation of various things. And the implications are that there’s something insidious–or at least bad–about the church being a corporation. (No, you don’t say Church + Corporation = bad, but the context and the way you frame it certainly suggests that’s the view being espoused.)

    On this matter, from my skimming (and searching) through your dissertation, it doesn’t seem to be a significant part of the dissertation–there’s some talk of the disincorporation of the Church, but not much substantive that I saw about the role of the corporate structure. So my not having read your dissertation in full has little to do with the argument.

    What I will say is, your espoused understanding of corporations doesn’t comport with my understanding of the use of corporations. There are several legal reasons why a church would choose the corporate form, many of which deal with continuity of property ownership, limited liability for principals, and tax structure. Although popular politics enjoys demonizing corporations, the corporate form has no inherent morality or, frankly, meaning. That the Church is a corporation does not imply men in gray flannel suits, or hierarchy, or even financial gain. It may be true that the Church has men in gray flannel suits, hierarchy, and or financial gain, but none of this is related to the corporate form. Corporations can be organized horizontally, rather than vertically, can function with no gain in mind, and can even be run by people in shorts and flip-flops (and have a ping-pong table in the break room).

    On the other hand, other non-corporate forms can also rape and pillage the financial sector, provide hierarchical organizations, and limit liability at the same time.

    So my argument is that there is no (or next to no) meaning (outside of the legal implications) to the Church having incorporated; treating its corporate organization either as a sign of goodness or badness is absurd.

    Is this an argument against your dissertation? Absolutely not. But it is intended to flag something that functions as a red herring in your (as I’ve said a number of times) excellent dialogue.

  101. Mommie Dearest says:

    I have a big ol’ long rambling mess of a comment on my notepad, that I’m gonna spare y’all. And me too. Taxes and assignments await.

    I have no business deconstructing the series, which I admit I only read part of. And what I read were things that I learned for the first time about the history of priesthood governance of the church. I can only address what I took from it. And my overall take was that those men accomplished something rather amazing, in spite of the imperfection. It hasn’t affected my trust in my stake president at all. Or, for that matter the GAs who run the church.

    Maybe instead of contending with Caraway, it would be more fair for me to acknowledge his perspective. He’s concerned with how things are done which is really what we are all concerned with, and what correlation itself is concerned with. My point is that even though he sees an implication of disapproval in the corporate organization, I can see the immense value of correlation to the current church, but I see disadvantages too. And if I can see this, I expect that most others can too.

    To cut it short, BCC is mostly uncorrelated in that everyone gets to speak their [uncorrelated] ideas *how* they want. (Within the limits correlated by the permas, of course.) Damon gets to get his hackles up when Caraway pokes him with his pencil. Caraway gets to withdraw when we all pile on him in defense of our little playground. And everyone gets to bring their “best gifts” of their ideas which keep me reading in fascination. I feel like these are the unspoken comments that we’d have in Sunday School if we weren’t all so thoroughly correlated. Which again, might be for the best, in spite of the costs.

  102. Aaron R. says:

    Thanks very much for these posts.

    I have one question which will reflect my ignorance. How does the process of manual creation differ between the John Taylor manual from other manuals, like YM or Sunday School? They seem to be organised around the same concepts but they are clearly very different in style.

  103. DOH! The electronic version was linked to right at the top. How on earth did I miss that? I’ve downloaded it and will probably do an initial read through tonight. If I comment on it I’ll probably comment at my blog unless you guys do a followup post here.

    Regarding Caraway’s comments, I think they are valid. However there’s only so much someone can do about miscommunication and misreading. At a certain point the issue is the reader not the writer. There is a duty of writers to write trying to think of the possible ways a text can easily be misread. But that’s hard. I think we all can think of times when we thought we were clear but folks came away with very different readings.

    I think that overall Daymon and Brad have been pretty clear. That’s not to deny possible misunderstandings. But at a certain level of clarity the responsibility is on the reader. If a reader doesn’t recall an argument too well they really have a duty not to do a horrible job representing it and claiming it is the original argument.

    So while I’m sympathetic to the issue of casual browsers misrepresenting stories to others, at a certain point I think it unfair to blame the original authors.

  104. What a fascinating series, and follow up discussion. It took me a while to warm to the whole concept of aligning doctrine around abstract language, but I think I get what is going on here, and really appreciate taking the time to lay out all of this work for us.

    The question I have, and may have missed totally, is whether or not this process of correlation is really just a reflection of the modern mind, more exposed starting in the 20th century to books, newspapers, electronic media, and more abstract ideas, etc? Aren’t we more disposed to think in abstract terms, rather than in physical analogies lately? As I pointed out in a comment way back in one of the earlier installments, this parallels the shift in what Jan Shipps calls “boundary maintenance” from the collective, physical manifestations of 19th century Mormonism, to individual faithfulness and observance as reflected in our thoughts and actions. Obviously we live in different times than John Taylor.

    I understand some of what Caraway is getting at, and I’ll admit that there were times when I was struggling at what Daymon and Brad were “implying”. However, I’ve gotten comfortable over the entire series that this is just explaining in a reasoned way about something that we all view as a bit nebulous and thus nefarious, perhaps. In reality, I view it as helping to make the gospel understandable to a larger and more diverse audience. And in that, I don’t have any issues with their conclusions. To me, this is what makes loitering around the bloggernacle worthwhile.

  105. thanks to all for the questions and comments. Even to detractors, who give me much to consider as I revise.

    I’ll try to address everything asked of me, here in a single post.

    With respect to the creation of other manuals, the process is standardized across the board, though with the Joseph Smith manual other factors were involved, due to the nature of the texts.

    I agree with Kevin that what happened outside Mormonism in the 20th c. also happened inside, under Correlation. The insight I try to provide is that it develops differently, in Mormonism, and that those differences are related to the events (the underground) we now try to understand in a ‘correlated’ way, that is, as a matter of discerning the abstract principle in the tale as it relates to my life. This is to say, history matters. This new modern perspective makes actually seeing the rise of Correlation (or modernity) as a historical event, rather than ‘natural progression’ rather difficult. Seeing it as ‘historical’ is important, I think.

    Sam and the question of ‘corporation’.
    It is true that the discussion of corporation status is almost non-existent in the dissertation, and for that reason I was somewhat surprised at the reaction the word evoked. The term is relevant to the changes in the 1920s-30s that I outline, and I didn’t see this when I wrote the dissertation three-four years ago. So I added it to the discussion, because I thought it helped frame the changes, given the trend in America during those decades toward corporate forms.

    Outside the discussion of the dissertation: does the term ‘corporation’ explain anything the term ‘church’ does not? Or, does the term orient our understanding in way not thusly oriented by the term ‘church’? I’m am not speaking of legal distinctions, but rather practical ones. I would say “Yes”, and not at all because pop culture has a love-hate relation to corporations that I’m covertly trying to ride on. The way a modern, for-profit limited liability (joint stock?) corporation organizes action, and the concerns thereof, how things are established as ‘relevant’ and not so much, differ when one works as a corporation. There are markets for corporations, not for churches, for example; laws and tax codes shape the actions thereof differently. Of course, “the church” is not a for-profit, has no profit motive, but yet is formed in the image of GM (explicitly), without, however, the same motives and operational environment. So, yes, grey suits and financial gain are not inherent to the term, and for that reason I cannot see why I am criticized for using the term whose referent we both agree has no inherent good/evil essence by virtue of the term being used.

    In part, I am more suspicious of the term “The Church” than perhaps some are of my use of the term “corporation”. I can at least point to definitions of corporation that conform to real life analyses and evidence. So, to turn it around:

    What is meant by “The Church”, anyway?

  106. BTW – Daymon, I think I’m following what you’re saying much better in your dissertation. My apologies for not realizing an electronic version was available the whole time. That’s me being bad as a reader. (grin) It’ll probably take me a few days to read it all and digest it.

  107. Daymon,
    That’s the thing–largely, the corporate form doesn’t make a ton of difference today. I can get limited liability by organizing as a corporation, a limited liability company, a limited partnership, a limited liability partnership, or any of dozens of foreign entities that aren’t corporations. There are partnership interests listed on public exchanges (Blackstone leaps to mind, but I understand that many oil and gas companies are organized as partnerships).

    Moreover, the Church is not organized in GM’s form—GM is a corporation organized under the laws of Delaware. The various LDS corporate entities are not. I assume (though I’ve not looked into it) that the Church is organized under the laws of Utah, which undoubtedly differ from the laws of Delaware. Moreover, at least in Delaware, religious corporations are organized under a different set of laws than non-religious corporations. Which is to say, even though they’re both called “corporations,” they aren’t really the same animal.

    Ultimately, I’m not criticizing you for saying “corporation.” I am, however, suggesting that you’re looking for meaning that isn’t there. I don’t see any difference between practical and legal distinctions: all a corporation is is a legal entity. Outside of legal considerations, there would be no need for entity form.

  108. Sam, I’ll let Daymon fill in the details, but the claim that the Church is patterned, in its corporate form, on the GM model is not a claim that they were incorporated in the same jurisdiction or according to the same legal requirements.

  109. Brad,
    Then it’s a fairly meaningless statement. If the Church’s organization is patterned on GM, it could be irrespective of whether it was a corporation, a partnership, an unincorporated . . . something, or whatever. There is nothing inherently corporate about any organizational structure. I could structure GM as a corporation, as an LLC, or as any number of other entities and still impose the same broad organizational structure. Or I could set up the exact same set of subsidiaries as GM has and structure them differently. A corporation is just a juridical person; beyond that, it doesn’t have a lot of meaning. (Maybe, if you want, you could call it your 19th-century Mormon–it’s all body; the mind of a corporation is a lot harder to figure out.)

    Again, I’m not trying to attack the work you guys have done. I sincerely enjoyed it. Moreover, a lot of the theory underlying it is stuff I’m not familiar with, and wouldn’t have the background with which to argue (plus it feels like you’ve got strong evidence underlying what you’ve said). But I do have (slightly more than) passing acquaintance with corporations and other legal entities.

  110. The state of incorporation seems like a rather minor point I’m willing to concede. Got me there, Delaware is not Utah.

    By “GM model” I meant not that it was organized in Delaware, that is not the GM model, that is merely where they’ve incorporated. A GM model makes divisions and departments compete, buy product and offer services one to another; thus in theory reducing the overall cost of production (see Sloan’s autobiography), all governed by a series of directors evaluated on the basis of value per dollar. Though the motive is not profit here, that is the model.

    “Meaning” is not what I’m looking for by using the word; rather, I use the word because legally it is a corporation; I am correct, as far as the law goes. Am I not? Analytically, I have spelled out why I use the term, because it gives a perspective that is lacking when speaking of a ‘church’. (Which ‘church’ model do you have in mind?) You’ve not answered why “church” is somehow a better term to describe the organization, other than the ‘feel’ is apparently more to your liking. I cannot disagree, of course, with your preferences. But legally and analytically I have an argument, if these are not considerable reason enough against an unspoken sense you seem to possess but are unwilling to articulate, than I rest my case. To dismiss the use of ‘corporation’ because it is just a legal entity is like saying there’s no reason to speak of Americans rather than humans, that’s just a legal concept, right? Slave and land-owner, just a legal distinction that means nothing more? What does one gain by distinguishing between felons and non-felons, or immigrants and citizens, just legal entities, right? A corporation provides a certain structure which is fleshed out in practice; a corporation sole, or a non-profit, or a for-profit, are legal distinctions that I think we could agree give directions for actions which do, on some days, matter.

  111. Steve Evans says:

    Daymon, what you’re describing doesn’t sound really corporations or business organizations per se, but is just management structure. A terminology difference you might not care about, to be sure, but an important one.

  112. Matt W. says:

    Daymon – re:GM Model- How are church departments measured by their value per dollar?

  113. Carl Youngblood says:

    (I’m not sure if Caraway is a surname or given name so I’m not sure about gender. I’ll assume Caraway is a he.)

    OK, just to add my two cents, while I am not as concerned about readers’ misinterpretation as Caraway, I do agree that some of the language in the conversation has obvious negative connotations that Brad and Daymon have attempted to backpedal in their post-transcript comments. Overall, though, I think their attempts at fairness and objectivity came through to me.

    I also agree with other comments that the thesis, while highly useful and of tremendous worth, sometimes seems to be used by the Brad and Daymon to explain more than I think it can, or as a single explanation when I believe other factors are at play.

    But I don’t want this impression to detract from the tremendous achievement that has been made, and I am sincerely grateful for all your efforts in publishing this condensed conversational version. I intend to study the dissertation in greater detail.

    Thank you very much, Brad and Daymon, for all your hard work.

  114. Peter LLC says:

    I assume (though I’ve not looked into it) that the Church is organized under the laws of Utah, which undoubtedly differ from the laws of Delaware.

    The only reason to incorporate in Delaware is to avoid taxes and the Church already has that one one covered.

  115. Matt W.,
    it depends on which department.
    Of course, they can’t really do the same thing as GM, given that there is no profit. But they try to evaluate how much single employees, and departments, accomplish with what they are given. For example, how many chapels were built, per full-time employee, and at what total cost?

    With respect to the distinction between management method and the term corporation, I did indicate that it was the GM model of a corporation, not that every corporation was organized in the same way (and evil, to boot).
    That point, of course, was not in the conversation, as I only thought it important to indicate that they organized a corporation sole at one point, and that intellectual property is a new concern for the same.

  116. Daymon,
    What Steve said in 111. Management style and corporation are two different things, and the distinction is important. And the fact that both the Church and GM are corporations doesn’t tell us anything about anything. FWIW, the Harvard Business Review has an interesting blog post about changing conceptions of corporations, and the nuance with which the Founders would have understood them (done by a historian, not an attorney, and in a totally separate context).

  117. #35, LeftField mentioned some manuals that mention polygamy. I did a blog post a little while ago called “Plural Marriage as Discussed in the Church Today.” It covers what the current manuals say.

    http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/2008/08/plural-marriage-as-discussed-in-church.html

    Daymon, #91: I think part of the problem was the casual tone of the piece. It seemed to lose God, in terms of believing God is involved through revelation, etc. I’m one who tries to appreciate the interplay of the human and divine, to use a strange dichotomy, but there were times correlation seemed to be a purely human enterprise from start to fin.

    Making the conversation less ribbing, including an affirmation here and there that inspiration can be involved in the process, would probably have reduced the heartburn for some readers.

    Overall, this was a really fun series. I think it was creative, fresh, and wove together many interesting aspects of our religion. Thanks for sharing it.

  118. My wife and I are small business owners. Our business is an S Corporation. We are the owners because we hold all the stock of the corporation. We are also the board of directors, the officers of the board of directors, and the appointed president and vice president of the corporation. Because we control every aspect of the corporation, our company isn’t really much different from that of a sole proprietorship. So referring to our company as a corporation is rather meaningless, when trying to understand how the company operates. However, to discuss our management style is useful.

    To connect this to the question of what we mean by “church”, I would argue that we speak of a “church” in terms of its management style (or lack thereof, as the case may be). For the LDS church, this style is extremely hierarchical. Each member within each organisation within the church has a specific authority to which he/she reports. Further, each organisation also has a specific authority to which it reports. Major decisions are made at lowest level possible and passed through the chain of command. I find this distinction of management to be far more useful in understanding what we mean by “the church” or “the Church” than just saying it is a corporation.

    I know that none of this really relates too terribly much to Daymon’s dissertation as a whole, but I think the discuss of how certain words/phrases have specific meaning in the minds’ of the hearers/readers does relate considerably.

  119. Butch Bowman says:

    #79: “That is the kind of discomfort I have about teaching church members in any venue that what they’ve always assumed or been explicitly taught isn’t true.”

    C’mon, Caraway. Fess up. You’re really Elder Packer using a pseudonym, right? We know you’ve been following this series, since you pretty much overtly referred to it in your Conference talk. So, since I’ve got you on the line, could I just make one eensy weensy request? Could we please please please please please correlate the Gospel Principles manual right out the window?

  120. Steve G. says:

    Before this gets buried too deep, I want to say what a great series this has been. I’m only about halfway through the dissertation and am enjoying that as well.

    most of these texts were originally published in the Journal of Discourses, though they explicitly change the citations from the JD to the Deseret News, because of course they don’t want people actually going to the Journal of Discourses

    While sitting in class today studying Gospel Principles I noticed another thing about the Prophet manuals. The new GP references the prophet manuals instead of the original sources. So now we have another layer of insulation from the original sources. A thoroughly correlated one at that.

    While I don’t think correlation is a bad thing, I’d be lying if I said this aspect of correlation didn’t bother me. I don’t want the insulation from our past, but I can see why it is problematic.

  121. Steve G. says:

    dang it I forgot to close the italics. It should be obvious but the 2nd paragraph was meant to be a citing of the OP.

  122. Steve, from what I understand, one reason that referencing was done is to assist people who don’t have the JD and other sources in their own languages. By referring back to earlier manuals they hope that people with less access to the originals can at least have a reference from another book they can access and read. FWIW

  123. Carl Youngblood says:

    BHodges makes a really good point. Referencing other manuals instead of original sources serves multiple purposes, only one of which is contrary to scholarly publishing standards. Perhaps the ideal would be to publish original sources in English and then provide references from the manual as well, so that non-English manuals would at least have somewhere to look.

  124. Yeah this makes sense since most members probably held on to their prophet manuals and there is a currently a flood of them throughout members’ homes. My home has two copies of each, since both my wife and I got them. I really hope they don’t totally do away with references to Journal of Discourses or Church History volumes though. Having those sources cited next to the contemporary sources would definitely be ideal.

  125. Is there a list somewhere of the 72 abstract nouns or topics that the committee originally mapped out on their chart?

  126. Butch Bowman, #119:

    “C’mon, Caraway. Fess up. You’re really Elder Packer using a pseudonym, right? We know you’ve been following this series, since you pretty much overtly referred to it in your Conference talk. So, since I’ve got you on the line, could I just make one eensy weensy request? Could we please please please please please correlate the Gospel Principles manual right out the window?”

    No. I will however be pleased to dispatch a band of Danites to your home one of these dark nights. They will be pleased to correlate you right into the nearest body of cold water. How does Thursday suit your schedule?

  127. Butch Bowman says:

    Ha ha! :)

    Believe me, I’d willingly jump in if it would get rid of that dumb book! Only 8 1/2 months of Priesthood lessons to go.

  128. The joke is on you Butch. We will be using that manual for two years, not one.

    If you’re as smart as you think you are, you will stop beating your head against the wall and start finding a way to use that manual profitably. Others are doing so.

  129. Butch Bowman says:

    Oh Caraway, Caraway. Lighten up. Others are doing so.

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